My scream echoes through the slowly dissipating tent city full of hippies. The wind gives no fucks about my puny human rage, and blows harder in my face as I struggle to hold this motherfucking, fatherless, cock-sucking, good for nothing, pain in the ass tent in the ground. I shouldn’t speak so harshly about her. This tent has served me well these last three summers of festivals. She survived the Hudson Project, for fuck’s sake. I should be showing some god damn respect, but she’s on her last legs, and this is quite obviously her final trek with me into the wook wilderness.
“Grab the corner and pull it down, flat!” Jack shouts as he struggles with me. “Huh?!” I shout back and watch him grunt in frustration. Years of concerts and listening to my headphones at max volume has taken a noticeable toll on my hearing. Jack’s voice has a naturally low tone to it, requiring him to repeat himself a lot around me. Obviously, this can become quite irritating; especially when we’re trying to save our primary source of shelter from some of the most vicious wind I’ve ever had the displeasure of experiencing.
“GRAB THE FUCKING CORNER, AND PULL IT FLAT! JESUS FUCKING CHRIST, YOU’RE DEAF!” Jack screams angrily from his side of the tent. I hear him this time, yank my corner of the tent as hard as I can, and slam the stake through the corner hole. We repeat this process until all of the remaining stakes are in their original positions before retreating back into the tent for some much-needed Cocaine and beer.
We’ve been at Disc Jam Music Festival for four days. It’s Sunday, and most people are packing up and heading home so they can show up to work tomorrow morning. Neither Jack nor I have to work tomorrow, so we’re staying. I was lucky enough to wake up before our coke dealing neighbor left and scored a very necessary half gram. Every time I’m at a festival and the final day rolls around my anxiety kicks in heavy. Most people walk away from these grounds satisfied and ready to head back to everyday life until next year. I have no life to go back to.
I dump the remainder of my old Cocaine out onto my phone screen and grab a straw. It adds up to four nicely sized lines, more than I expected to get out of the fading Walgreen’s pill pouch I dumped it out of. My nose is clogged from a weekend of abuse, and I sigh as I search the tent for something to blow my nose with. We still don’t have tissues, even though I’ve said “We should buy tissues.” 80-100 times in the past three days. I resort to toilet paper again, and gag at the bloody boogers and scabs that come rocketing out of my sunburnt shnoz. I wait a moment for blood, but it doesn’t come, and I rail my four lines up greedily, sniffing and snorting every two seconds as the never-ending drip of mediocre coke slowly slugs its way down my esophagus into my gullet.
Just after I put my phone away, the wind kicks back into high gear, and rips three of the tent’s stakes out of the ground. The rain fly flaps around violently, barely hanging on. If there wasn’t roughly 350 pounds of human meat in this tent, it would have flown away hours ago. “FUCK! FUCK, FUCK, FUCK! FUCK THIS DUDE, LET’S JUST PUT ALL OUR SHIT IN THE CAR!” I shout over the storm, the coke doing little to calm my temper. “Hold on, dude. I have an idea. I can fix this. Just do what I say.” Jack replies before unzipping the door of the tent. I follow him outside and wait for his instructions.
“Close the door.”
“MOTHERFUCKER! CLOSE THE DOOR!” He screams over the wind.
This is where Jack and I differ. In most respects we are like brothers. We both love music, drugs, movies, creativity, and have similarly dark senses of humor. We’re both stubborn, but in different ways. I’m done arguing with Mother Nature, but Jack must have the last word. He’s also been tripping since yesterday afternoon, and has taken over ten hits of both liquid and paper LSD this weekend. Some guy made a huge half-sheet ground score and asked him to be his guinea pig, and handsomely rewarded Jack when he reported back to him. Two other guys dosed him for free. I don’t do much Acid these days. Every time I do, Acid tells me that it is very disappointed in me, and doesn’t approve of the downward spiral my life has taken these last three years or so. It’s still fun, but I have too much baggage to hang with Jack.
“Alright, here’s what we’re gonna do. Please, for fuck’s sake, try and listen to me this time.” Jack begins as we each grab a side of the tent. The coke makes me want to argue with or insult him, but I hold my tongue. We’re in a shitty situation, and he has a point. I’d get frustrated with me too if I was him. I’m clumsy, and besides my cock and balls, I am hardly a man. I have zero discernible skills or useful talents. I can’t fix your car, I can’t wire a house, I can’t build you a shed. I can’t even change my god damn oil. Just pitching a tent took me several attempts to finally get down. Jack is much more resourceful than me in this regard.
“Grab your side, pick it up, and spin it clockwise. We’re gonna turn it around, so the door is facing opposite the wind.” Jack explains. “One, two, three!” My strung-out, skinny-fat, drug ravaged, animated corpse provides little help in lifting the tent, but thankfully we’ve used most of our supplies and it is nearly void of cases of beer and other heavy objects. We quickly re-stake the tent down and get back inside. The wind goes harder and harder, but the tent remains in place. “Holy shit, it worked. Thanks dude.”
I troop out to a nearby Cumerland Farms to grab a 12 pack of Bud Light. Jack hates Bud Light, but it’s all they have. He’s one of those craft beer guys. IPA’s, pale and amber ales, hops. That shit is all Greek to me, and all beer tastes like shit to me. I’m much more of a hard liquor kinda guy, since that stuff actually gets you drunk. Paying $30 for a 12 pack of Weary Wanderer Triple IPA Stout made with hydroponic barley by some old couple in rural Vermont was never very appealing to me. I reach for a PBR if I have to look somewhat civilized in front of other people. I’ve been called a pussy for drinking cheap beer, but I shut most of those people up when they watch me down the cheapest swill the bar has to offer with alcoholic ease. I don’t sniff coke ‘cause I like the taste, and I apply that same logic to all drugs, including booze.
The end is nigh and I am in full panic binge mode as I guzzle beer after beer and sniff bump after bump. I’m just trying to enjoy this last day of music and live in the moment, but after 24 years on this planet, I’ve yet to master the technique. I’m always being dramatic, I acknowledge being dramatic, but I still feel like shit. I wanna take one of these last two Etizolam, but I know I’ll need it even more tonight.
We set up camp at the main stage with the rest of the stragglers, all while the wind rages on. It pierces through my black hoodie as I shiver beneath it and wiggle my toes in my sneakers. I’m one of those pussies that’s always cold, so I try and warm up with some MDMA. This stuff has defied my expectations in every way possible. There’s almost no speedy edge to it whatsoever, just warmth and euphoria. The fact that I haven’t rolled in nearly a year certainly doesn’t hurt either. Jack and I split the last big dose in our bag and my anxiety finally begins to wane as it creeps up on me.
As my eyes pan the crowd and my head bobs to a band I don’t know the name of I see Mindy appear out of nowhere. She smiles when she sees me and approaches Jack and I, the wind pushing her oversized hoodie far over her head, making her look like some sort of hippie sand person. I’m surprised she even remembers me. We met last night, or early this morning, at one of the late night sets under the tent stage. I went to light a smoke and noticed her staring at me, her eyes black circles with little blue rings around them. Being the worm that I am, I jerked away like an Autistic teenager and kept checking out the band. I turned back again and she was still there, staring at me. Not smiling, not frowning, just staring, spun.
I asked her if she was OK, or if I had something on my face. She didn’t say anything. I asked if she wanted a water or a beer, she didn’t say anything. She took one of my cigarettes, though. The nicotine seemed to open her up a bit as she exhaled smoke in my face and smiled again at me. “My name is Mindy.” She began, her expression changing from blank to anxious and sad as she told me. “Hey Mindy, I’m Harry…”
“I’m the Messiah, you know.”
“Oh? What’s that like? Must be pretty cool.”
“It’s fun, but people are assholes, you know?”
“Mhm. I agree…”
“I’m tired of getting fucked in the ass.”
“No, not like anal sex. Like, metaphysically. You know what I mean? I still have my anal virginity.
Do you wanna sit down with me?”
I grabbed a water bottle from my bag and handed it to Mindy as we both sat down on the grass. She rooted through her purse, pulled out a bowl, and started loading it with weed. Jack turned around, looked down at me, arched his eyebrow, and winked at me. I circled my ear with my finger and mouthed the words “Fucking crazy.” Mindy took a huge rip off her bowl and generously tried to pass it to me. I put my hand up and shook my head.
“No thank you, I can’t smoke weed. I get drug tested.”
“You’re not on drugs right now?!”
“I can do some drugs. I got a test Friday. Coke, Molly, Acid, booze, fine. No weed, though. Takes too long to get out of your system.”
“Oh. That sucks.”
“Yeah. Don’t ever do heroin.” I said after shrugging and lighting a smoke.
“Oh, you too?”
Mindy reached over and hugged me unexpectedly. When she pulled away she went back to staring at me. “My parents sent me to rehab for a month. I was only snorting it, though.” She said after a long pause. I nodded. “Doesn’t matter what you were doing with it. You still know… I’m on subs now. Doing better. Where you from, Mindy?”
“Jersey. I got a boyfriend back there. One day I’m gonna give him my anal virginity. I’m saving that for him.” She said, beaming with joy before her expression once again changed to nervous uncertainty.
“There’s another girl he has, though. There’s another girl, but I’m the one. I’m the one…” She hung her head, slumped her shoulders, and began staring at the ground. “I’m the one…” She repeated to herself softly. Suddenly, another girl appeared behind her and crouched down next to her. “There you are! We’ve been looking for you! Come on!” She cried, hugged Mindy and helped her up. Mindy gave me a limp wave as her friend led her away into the crowd. “Nothin?” Jack asked me as I stood up. “Nope.”
“Hi Harry!” She says perkily. “Oh, no way, it’s the Messiah…” I say sarcastically as she sits down next to me. “I’m really nothing special.” She replies as she pulls her bowl out again. “Somebody gave me this. I think it has something in it…” Mindy pulls out a bag with a homemade Rice Krispies treat inside and shows it to me. “Edibles, nice! Careful, those things are strong.” I say as I hand it back to her. “You want any?” I shake my head. “Nah, can’t, sorry. Thanks, though. I get drug tested, remember?” “Oh, yeah! Shit, I’m sorry, I remember now. I won’t do it anymore.” “It’s cool, don’t worry about it. Hey, you want some coke?” Mindy’s eyes bulge and she nods her head quickly. I pull out my bag and get a bump for her on a key, bringing it to her nose as she sniffs deeply. She yanks the key out of my hand and shoves it into her mouth without a second thought, cleaning it right down to the panic button. Damn.
“So how’d you guys do in the wind this morning?” I ask her as I prepare my bump.
“My friends did OK, I didn’t have a tent.”
“No tent? Where the fuck did you sleep?”
“I just slept with some guy. He was cool, I guess…” She says, keeping her eyes on my coke as I put it back in my bag. “I don’t know what I’m gonna tell my boyfriend. I don’t think I should tell my boyfriend, he doesn’t need to know anything that went on here.”
I shrug and nod. “What happens at Disc Jam stays at Disc Jam, right?” I say, which makes her laugh.
“Haha, right? Can I have another bump? That last one kinda got knocked off by the wind…”
I have a bad habit of feeding women drugs every time they express the slightest amount of interest in me, whether genuine or blatantly manufactured. I load another bump up onto my key and hold it out under her nose gently like I’m feeding a deer that might dart away at the slightest wrong move. Mindy snorts up my coke and cocks her head back, pulls her sinuses open, and sniffs deeply. She licks the key clean again and starts staring at me again. “Most guys are full of shit. You’re just… here. Doin’ you. I like that. You seem like a guy I could be friends with.” And there we go. I think I know where this is going. I’m a big boy, and I don’t need help finishing my Cocaine from Mixed Message Mindy over here. Irritated, I start dropping hints.
Bump. Sniff. Back in the bag. She’s staring at me, I can still feel it. I play clueless. We exchange a few more awkward glances and smiles, like two drivers stuck at a busy intersection with a broken traffic light. “I think I’m gonna go find my friend. It was nice meeting you, Harry.” She says before she drives off. “Where the fuck did she go?” Jack says as he returns from making a weed sale in the campgrounds. “Back to her friend, or her camp, I dunno.” I mumble back to him. “Damn, seemed like she was into you.” Jack says. “Yeah, no, I don’t think so.” I reply. “You sure? From here it looked like she was throwing it at you. She probably was, you just had no idea. You kinda suck at that dude, no offense. I mean, I get it, she wasn’t exactly your type. But how long has it been at this point?” Jack says, prying at me. “I don’t even wanna fucking think about that, dude. Where the fuck is the K?”
There are a lot of things I don’t want to fucking think about. Like how I have $20 to get home with and $5 to eat off of this week. Like how I have a drug test Friday and I’m totally gonna drop dirty for benzos. Like how I blew a month’s worth of serotonin in three days, and owe it all back tomorrow morning. Like how I gotta tell my therapist I fucked up again and went on another bender, one I planned out all while lying in his face and telling him I was doing well. When I’m starting to get sick of my shit, I gotta wonder how long he’s been sick of my shit.
“Yo, can they have some K?” Jack asks me, motioning to a group of kids who just appeared next to us. One of them holds up a bag of Wine and promises unlimited access for just a line of K. I’m out of beer and it seems like a fair trade. We sort them out, I slap the bag, and chug, chug, chug, chug…
“Fuckin…. Fuck. Where’s the K?” I slur back at the tent. It’s midnight, how did I get here? I dump unknown white powder on my phone and rack some lines up. “We don’t have any more K, man. Remember? We did the rest with those kids at main stage with the wine?” Jack explains. “Oh. Shit. Fuck, man. It’s over…” I mumble before I finish my coke. I regret the decision as soon as the coke clears my nose. I don’t wanna be up anymore. I toss two Etizolam in my mouth and lay down.
“If anyone is in this tent, wake up NOW Let’s go!!!”
“Shit.” I mumble to myself early Monday morning. They said they were waking us up at 8 AM sharp. Guess they weren’t kidding. As I stumble outside to piss, I notice we’re among the last ones here. That’s usually how it goes: first to arrive, last to leave. I stumble around in a zig-zag pattern back to my car, arms full of stuff, while Jack sleeps back at the tent. He finally wakes up as we make our final trip back to the car, and it becomes very apparent I am not equipped to make the long drive home. Jack, being smart, saved some coke from the night before, and gives me a bump. I know it won’t last long, and I need to be strategic. I throw on The Marshall Mathers LP since its aggressive enough to keep me awake, and I know every word.
We get through the album and progress onto The Eminem Show. Around “Say Goodbye to Hollywood”, I start to nod and swerve. “Fuck, dude. You’re slipping, you gonna be alright?” Jack asks me. We pull over to a rest stop and I grab a coffee, draining it in seconds before we hop back on the highway. Nothing changes. I hit another rest stop and grab another coffee, nothing changes. Thanks again, caffeine. Jack, on the other hand, is wide awake, and apparently sick of wondering when he should grab the wheel. We switch off driving at the next rest stop and I start to fall asleep when…
FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! YOOOOOO!!!
We spin out onto the grass divider between us and a nearby exit. A white Honda goes sailing across and rolls over twice before settling against the guard rail on other side of us. “What the fuck did you do, man?!!” I scream at Jack. “Yo, yo, chill. We gotta switch sides, dude, c’mon.” I hold my anger and we switch spots just as a state trooper pulls up behind us. He gets out of his cruiser and walks over to the other car before approaching us. “What the fuck did you do?!” I ask again. “Shut the fuck up, dude. It wasn’t my fault, chill. You’re gonna see. They tried changing lanes to hit the exit last minute and slammed into us. That cop must’ve seen the whole thing. It wasn’t my fault, dude. I swear.”
The trooper corroborates Jack’s side of the story and cites the other car. Nobody seems to have been hurt, though the other car is totaled. I’ve got some minor damage to my car, but I’m able to limp it home. If nothing else, the whole thing has woke me the fuck up. My front axle wobbles as I pull into Jack’s apartment and I drop him off. “Word. Thanks man. One more thing…” He says as he opens the door.
“Take your sub. I wanna see you do it.”
I sigh, roll my eyes, and open up my script bottle. “You’re gonna make me fuckin’ fall asleep and get into another fucking accident..” I protest as I unwrap one of the strips. “You’re not sleeping after that shit. Now do it.” I put the strip under my tongue and Jack waits a few seconds for it to dissolve, at least enough to ensure I can’t go out and score a bag of dope tonight. I hate him for this, for being a good friend. “Good. Get some sleep, man. Drive safe.”
I wonder how that shit would have turned out had I been behind the wheel. Would we have even made it that far? I probably wouldn’t have handled it like Jack did. I remember that it’s Monday as I hit rush hour traffic on the way home. Motherfucker.
My car limps down my street two hours later, threatening to fall apart at any moment as the front right wheel wobbles with each rotation. I opt to leave everything but my backpack in here ‘till tomorrow and stumble into my dark, dingy, apartment. I collapse onto the couch dirty, oily, sweaty, toxicity pumping through my pours as I light my last cigarette. An ashy, beat up coffee table sits before a dusty TV in an otherwise empty living room. I laugh to myself as I smoke and think out loud. “Good thing I’m not on dope anymore. Otherwise I might fuck all this up.”